Staunton, April 7 – If Vladimir Putin decides that he has won a certain victory in Ukraine, that will be far worse for Russia and the world than the recognition that his aggression has suffered a defeat, Kirill Rogov says. That is because it will only encourage him to increase his military moves there and elsewhere.
“Putin has made a monstrous mistake,” the Moscow analyst says, “but if he admits this, then he will lose the political capital for which has worked for 20 years, his image as a tough and hard-bitten guy who takes risks, crosses red lines but in some sense ends up a winner and can move one” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=624F0462D6A8A).
To prevent that from happening, he will fasten on any small victory and continue the conflict, “dragging Russia ever further down into a catastrophe.” If he secures the land corridor to the Crimea, “he will be able to declare a victory.” But the paradox of this is that “if he succeeds, it will be worse than a defeat.”
And that is because “a Putin victory is worse than a Pyrrhic one.” That is because Ukraine and the West will never accept that “victory” and sanctions will remain in place “until Russia retreats behind “the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine,” something the Kremlin leader is incapable of doing.
Meanwhile, “the Russian economy will be thrown back 25 years.” Moscow won’t make up its loss of sales to the West by sales to Asia even though Putin is certain to claim this is a victory because the West will remain outraged. But Moscow won’t be able to “’enjoy’ its victory given the degradation and disorientation of the economy.”
Russian elites, Rogov continues, “include many who are aware of this prospect.” But none has the right or the will to “stop or at least slow down this act of national suicide.” Instead, they remain “complicit in the catastrophe even if they try to give their specific actions the patina of superficial rationality.”
In this accident-prone plane Russia has become, the passengers are raising flags with “idiotic slogans” like de-Nazification and import substitution even as they “cautiously and respectfully look at the back of the head of the pilot who is driving the plane into the mountainside.”
“At least” – and this may be enough for Putin, Rogov suggests, “no one will say that he was ordinary or ‘failed to hold onto power.’” And that of course, is “the most important thing” in his universe.